GroundTruth Blog

GroundTruth: PAN's blog on pesticides, food & health

Margaret Reeves's picture

Farmers who protect their soil using organic or other sustainable methods often encounter hurdles that other farmers do not. Current policies provide disproportionately little support for such farming practices depite the clear benefits — for the soil, the environment, human health and economic growth.

This week the U.S. Senate will have a chance to partially correct this by supporting Food and Farm Bill amendments that link crop insurance to sound farming practices. We know that good stewardship builds diverse agroecosystems that are inherently less risky than conventional sytems. Less risk with greater protection of soil and other natural resources? That's where I want my tax dollars to go.

Heather Pilatic's picture

Twenty years ago this week Dan Quayle went against scientific consensus to publicly proclaim that genetically engineered foods were “substantially equivalent” to non-GE food, and that he would therefore work to ensure that GE food would not be “hampered by unnecessary regulation.” In the pivotal 1992 FDA ruling that Quayle then proudly claimed as part of his “regulatory relief” agenda, the flood gates for GE were opened.

We’ve been living in that wake ever since because a small clutch of biotech “true believers,” ideologically anti-regulatory government officials and industry lobbyists have kept that flood gate open against great odds.

Kristin Schafer's picture

There's an interesting debate emerging in the public health world. It has to do with whether we need to rejigger our thinking about the risks pesticides and other chemicals pose to children's health.

Traditionally, we've had a "disease-oriented" approach, assessing risk based on the severity of a health outcome (think birth defects or cancer). But earlier this month a provocative Environmental Health Perspectives article argued that a "population approach" might be wiser — meaning that even when a health effect is not severe, if it's affecting a huge number of our children (think dropping IQs), we should be paying attention.

Kathryn Gilje's picture

On May 25, Syngenta settled the lawsuit brought against them by water systems across the country, agreeing to pay more than $100 million to clean up contamination with their endocrine-disrupting pesticide atrazine. Former Chief Justice Michael Wolff of the Missouri Supreme Court called the settlement a remarkable achievement that will have far-reaching impact on the safety and quality of public drinking water.

This lawsuit is a hard-fought, symbolic victory. To make it mean more, we need policy protections and we need Syngenta lobbyists to let scientists and government officials do their jobs.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

The "obesity epidemic" is constantly in the news. This year's CDC figures show that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. Childhood cancers and neurodevelopmental delays are on the rise.

Scientific studies show that many of these health conditions can be linked to exposures to environmental contaminants such as pesticides, and new research is finding that exposures occurring as far back as three generations can cause adverse health conditions today.

Margaret Reeves's picture

In the 1930s, Congress made a commitment to protect the soil and water resources on U.S. farms from massive, rapid losses (think dust bowl).

While progress has been made in the intervening decades, soil erosion remains a huge problem. As the Senate is poised to vote on the 2012 Food and Farm bill, we're working with our partners in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to fight for those programs that best protect vital soil resources — and you can help.

Heather Pilatic's picture

In the last few weeks beekeepers have reported staggering losses in Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio after their hives foraged on pesticide-treated corn fields. Indiana too, two years ago. What's going on in the Corn Belt?

Linda Wells's picture

Today Pesticide Action Network (PAN) is releasing Pesticide Drift Monitoring in Minnesota, a report that documents multiple pesticides in the air near homes and farms throughout Central Minnesota. This report is the result of diligent, on-the-ground monitoring by a group of citizens who have directly experienced harm from pesticide exposure — and are refusing to let it continue.

Since joining PAN earlier this year, collaborating with this group of farmers and rural residents has been my absolute favorite work. Their persistence in shining a light on pesticide exposure in their communities has both given me hope and shown me the severity — and urgency — of the problem. 

Kristin Schafer's picture

Part of my job here at PAN is keeping track of the latest research about how pesticides are harming children’s health. This has kept me too busy of late, as studies seem to be coming fast and furious linking pesticides with childhood asthma, autism, birth defects, cancer and more.

One recent study gave me serious pause. We already understand that some chemicals can change how our genes function; now researchers know that this damage can be passed from one generation to the next. I’m no scientist, but I understand enough to know that compromising the DNA of future generations is not a good idea.

Kathryn Gilje's picture

The controversial pesticide atrazine, found in U.S. drinking water and linked to cancers, birth defects and low fertility, is on the big screen this weekend. And Syngenta, largest pesticide corporation in the world and maker of atrazine, is fighting with fire.

The chemical giant's PR machine is in high gear, downplaying the risks of atrazine exposure and even claiming that its gender-bending chemical can save the day. Greenwashing at its best.